Time Trip Tips

Living 'here and now' is not easy to do for any significant length of time. We are constantly being swept back into our remembered past or forward into our imagined future.

As if this weren't challenging enough, the 'past' we tend to spend so much time re-hashing is heavily influenced by our selective memory. People have a tendency to reconstruct a past event in such a way that it doesn't really line up with events as they actually happened. It's easy to re-create conversations in which we or the other person says or acts differently from the way it really happened. So not only do we wind up living in the past, it's often not even a past that really existed!

Similarly, when we start imagining some future event, it's likely to be heavily influenced by our fears and hopes. While there's nothing wrong with spending a little time imagining what the future could look like (i.e. what would you do if you won the lottery?) it's easy to begin living in a sort of limbo between the present moment and something that doesn't (and may never) exist.

Again, the likelihood that our vision of the future is accurate is pretty faint. Whatever you think you would do if you won the lottery, it's safe to say that reality would be different than you are possibly capable of imagining. But hey, it's ok to dream, right? The answer is of course it is, as long as we remember when we are dreaming and when we are awake. And we are only awake right now, not when we are time tripping into the past or future.

One way to recognize if you are leaving the present moment is the presence of resentment or fear. Any resentment is based on something that has already happened. Any fear is based on something that has yet to happen. One way to minimize the pile of resentment and fear in your life is to bring yourself back to this breath. It may only last a moment before you are again flying off in one direction or the other, but sometimes just that one breath is enough to break the cycle of unproductive time tripping.

As the old saying goes, the past is history and there's nothing we can do about it, and the future is a mystery that we cannot deal with until we get there. The only thing we can influence is the present moment. This is a real gift, which is why it's called the present.


Bill Herring is a counslor, consultant and coach located in Atlanta.

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